Media statements issued never do get media coverage, and if it does it often does not report all that is stated. Given the fact, there seem to be no real documentation of all these civil society voices, this Blog has been started hoping to capture and preserve the voices of civil society for all. Appreciate it if you could forward me ( statements that have not been picked up by this Blog.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

AHRC (6/7/2011): MALAYSIA: Stop arrests and intimidation against Bersih 2.0

July 6, 2011

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission

MALAYSIA: Stop arrests and intimidation against Bersih 2.0

The Asian Human Rights Commission is seriously concerned about the recent arrests and intimidation by the Malaysian government against the leaders and supporters of the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) in Malaysia.

Bersih 2.0, a coalition of over 60 NGOs, planned to hold a rally on July 9 to demand electoral reforms in Malaysia. The coalition is demanding the cleaning up of the electoral roll, reforming postal ballots, use of indelible ink, a minimum 21-day campaign period, free access to the media and the halt of corruption, etc. In response, the Malaysian government disallowed the rally and carried out arrests and intimidation against the leaders and supporters of Bersih 2.0. According to the human rights organizations in Malaysia, at least 150 persons have been arrested or summoned for investigation. Many people have been harassed and intimidated by the police for wearing Bersih 2.0 t-shirts and distributing Bersih 2.0 leaflets. Bersih 2.0 was also declared an illegal organisation by the government.

Freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of peaceful assembly are the basic rights of everyone. They are also important guarantees of the right to political participation for people to be involved in public decision making. The repressive actions of the Malaysian government have seriously violated these rights. Malaysia like Burma remains one of the last countries in Asia that refuse to sign the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

We strongly condemn the arbitrary arrest and detention of Bersih's leaders and supporters under the Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance 1969 (EO), the Sedition Act, Section 122 of the Penal Code, and other laws. In particular, we are concerned over the use of preventive detention under the Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance which allows for detention without trial. The EO is equally as draconian as the Internal Security Act (ISA). The EO provides the police with powers to detain a person for up to 60 days. After the initial 60-day detention period, the Home Ministry can make an order authorising further detention without trial for a period of two years. This order can be renewed indefinitely. It is a blatant denial of the rights to civil liberties and circumvents the rule of law.

We call upon the Malaysian government to immediately release all the leaders and supporters of Bersih 2.0 being arbitrarily detained for exercising their freedom of expression; stop the arrest and intimidation of the leaders and supporters of Bersih 2.0; revoke the decision to declare the Bersih 2.0 an illegal organisation; and allow Bersih 2.0 to hold the rally as planned. Instead of attempting to silence Bersih 2.0 by clamping down on their freedom of expression the Malaysian government should look into their legitimate demands.

We also urge the Malaysian government to repeal the Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance 1969 and the Internal Security Act.

# # #

About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

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Human Rights Violations against Bersih 2.0 - Open Letter by FIDH & Ors (4/7/2011)

Description: logo_Pantone_outHigh Resolution Logo of Forum Asia
                                 FIDH Logo EN            logo_omct  
July 4, 2011
Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohammed Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak
Office of the Prime Minister
Main Block, Perdana Putra Building
Federal Government Administrative Centre
62502 Putrajaya, MALAYSIA
Via facsimile: +60-3-8888-3444
Re: Human Rights Violations against Bersih 2.0
Dear Prime Minister Najib,
We write to raise our very serious concerns about the escalating harassment, intimidation, and crackdown by your government against the leaders and supporters of the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih).
UN General Assembly resolution A/RES/60/251 states that members of the Human Rights Council shall “uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights.” Malaysia’s image and standing as a member of the UN Human Rights Council is being severely tarnished when instead of responding substantively to the detailed proposals for electoral reforms made by Bersih, you and your government have unleashed a barrage of arbitrary arrests of Bersih’s leaders and supporters in violation of their fundamental rights to freedom of association, expression, and peaceful assembly. Malaysia should immediately release all those being arbitrarily detained under the Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance of 1969, the Sedition Act of 1948, article 122 of the penal code, and other laws for peaceful Bersih-related activities; rescind the decision to declare Bersih an illegal organization and stop arresting peaceful political activists promoting Bersih 2.0; and allow the march of Bersih 2.0 planned in Kualu Lumpur on July 9, 2011 to proceed.
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) and other organizations on the ground in Malaysia have documented that police have arrested or summoned at least 150 persons for investigation on politically motivated charges.
Most serious is your government’s use of preventive detention in violation of fundamental due process rights under the Emergency Ordinance (EO) on July 2 to hold six Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) leaders, including Sungai Siput MP Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj, PSM deputy chairperson M. Saraswathy, central committee members Choo Chon Kai and M. Sukumaran, Sungai Siput branch secretary A. Letchumanan, and PSM Youth leader Sarat Babu. We call on you to order the Home Minister to immediately rescind his arrest order under the EO and free the six PSM leaders, and urge you to publicly commit that the EO, the Internal Security Act (ISA,) and other preventive detention laws will not be used again against Bersih leaders and supporters in the lead-up to the July 9 march.
We are also extremely concerned by your government’s action to charge the above-mentioned 6 PSM leaders and another 24 PSM activists (who were pulled off a bus heading to Penang) for offenses under penal code article 122 (“waging war against the king”), the Sedition Act, and the Police Act of 1967. The authorities were acting in violation of basic rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association when they arrested peaceful members of a political party for possessing t-shirts and campaign pamphlets simply because the government does not approve of their content. This action is contrary to article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which provides that “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media.” Accordingly, we call on your government to immediately release all of these activists still in custody and drop these charges against them.
Similarly, the police should be ordered to end their wave of harassment and arrests against Bersih activists who are peacefully promoting the July 9 march by making presentations or speeches, distributing pamphlets or other literature, wearing garments associated with Bersih, and other similar actions. Article 20 (1) of the UDHR states that “Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.” Your government should immediately release any such activists it is holding for promoting Bersih, and drop all charges against them that violate their right to freedom of expression and association. The police should also return confiscated office machines and campaign materials belonging to Bersih, including laptops, t-shirts, leaflets, and banners, that were seized during the police raid on June 29 at the EMPOWER office, which was functioning as the secretariat of Bersih.
Bersih was established for the purpose of promoting reform of Malaysia’s electoral laws, regulations, and procedures. As a coalition of over 60 NGOs, it has made comprehensive proposals that deserve the consideration of your government and the Election Commission. The Bersih leaders and supporters have pursued their rights to participation in their government, as provided by article 21(1) of the UDHR, which states “Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.” For this reason, your government is violating the right to freedom of association by designating Bersih as an “illegal organization” under section 5 of the Societies Act of 1966. Your government has failed to provide any credible evidence to substantiate the Registrar of Societies’ claims that Bersih is trying to topple the government, or is a risk to public order, safety, economy, and sovereignty.
Bersih’s leaders have publicly pledged that the planned July 9 march will be peaceful. The Malaysian government should allow the march to proceed and clearly undertake not to unilaterally block, disrupt, or otherwise break up the march as long as it remains peaceful. Similarly, the planned marches by Perkasa and UMNO Youth should also be allowed under the same provisos and conditions that they are peaceful. We call on the authorities to confine their role to maintaining the peace by ensuring all three marches and rallies to be held on July 9 remain separate so that there are no incidents between marchers. The police should not be permitted to harass or arrest persons peacefully travelling to join and participate in those marches on July 9.
Finally, the government’s use of draconian preventive detention laws is incompatible with your government’s seat on the UN Human Rights Council. We note that when you became Malaysia’s prime minister in April 2009, you pledged your “intention to uphold civil liberties” and expressed your “regard for the fundamental rights of the people of Malaysia.” We call on you to turn these pledges into concrete action by ordering law enforcement officials to immediately cease use of all preventive detention laws, and by starting a time-bound process to repeal those laws. The Malaysian penal code and criminal justice system are fully capable of addressing situations of internal security, and should be allowed to do so without resorting to preventive detention, which results in long-term arbitrary detention without the right to a fair trial. Your government stepped back from tabling the Internal Security Act 1960 (ISA) for amendment by parliament in March 2010. We are concerned that amending the law is not an adequate remedy because the law’s core premise runs contrary to international human rights standards. Rather, we urge your government to publicly push for immediate repeal of the ISA and the Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance 1969 as recommended in 2003 and 2005 by Suhakam, the national Human Rights Commission of Malaysia and the Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysian Police respectively. Your government should also repeal provisions allowing for preventive detention under the Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance 1969, the Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act 1985, and the Restricted Residency Act 1933, as called for by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in their report following their June 2010 mission to Malaysia.
We look forward to hearing from you.


Sam Zarifi
Asia-Pacific Director
Amnesty International
Yap Swee Seng
Executive Director
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development
Robertson, P
Phil Robertson
Deputy Director
Asia division
Human Rights Watch
Souhayr Belhassen
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
Eric Sottas
Secretary General
World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)


Tan Sri Dato' Haji Muhyiddin Yassin, Deputy Prime Minister
Dato’ Seri Hishammuddin bin Tun Hussein, Minister of Home Affairs
Dato’ Seri Utama Dr. Rais Yatim, Minister of Information, Communications, and Culture
Dato' Seri Mohamed Nazri bin Tan Sri Abdul Aziz, Minister, Office of the Prime Minister
Tan Sri Ismail Omar, Inspector General, Royal Malaysian Police

Press statement by concerned academicians on the Bersih march (5/7/2011)

Press statement by concerned academicians on the Bersih march

05 July 2011 13:05
Press Statements

We, the undersigned academicians, wish to express our concern at the deepening political crisis in the country. It is unfortunate that such a crisis is emerging out of a legitimate campaign, initiated by a large number of non-governmental organizations, to institute reforms through their campaign, Bersih, to ensure the conduct of truly free and fair elections in Malaysia.  Since the pursuit of such a campaign is undeniably noble, and timely, we are extremely perturbed that the government has resorted to harsh measures and use of draconian legislation to prevent the organizers from mounting a public rally.

We see the need for the leaders of Bersih to persist with dialogue with the bodies responsible for overseeing free and fair elections.  However, we also appreciate the argument by the campaign’s leaders that such an assembly is necessary since discussions have long taken place, with little progress - thus the need for the government to take serious heed of the campaign’s recommendations for free and fair elections for which there is considerable support from the country’s citizenry.

We note too that public assemblies and marches in support of causes that have attracted widespread public concern are a common feature of all democratic systems.  They are a legitimate expression of the freedom and rights of the citizens of a country.  A government that uses the laws, institutions and resources of the state to suppress or repress such activities undermines its own credibility and claim to practicing democracy.  The actions of the Government to curb this Bersih campaign will only hurt public perception of the Government’s commitment to the freedoms enshrined in the Federal Constitution.  Further actions such as the use of the Emergency Ordinance on Bersih supporters will only result in the enhanced perception of a government that refuses to institute free and fair elections for fear of losing power, an impression we are certain the government does not want to create.

We urge the following steps to resolve the crisis and restore public confidence in the Government’s ability to govern the country fairly and justly.
  1. Release all political activists held under the Emergency Ordinance.
  2. Drop all charges against those arrested by the police for Bersih-related offences.
  3. Permit Bersih the right to a peaceful march, if the organizers decide to do so. All other public marches should be allowed but with the timing and routes agreed to in advance to prevent any untoward consequences
  4. Both Government and Opposition parties, as well as NGOs, to commit their supporters participating in marches and other public assemblies to a code of peaceful and civil conduct
  5. Assurance by the relevant authorities that serious consideration is being given to ensure free and fair elections in the country.

Associate Prof. Dr. Andrew Aeria
Associate Prof. Dr. Azmi Sharom
Dr. Christopher Chong
Associate Prof. Dr. Sharmani Gabriel
Prof. Terence Gomez
Prof. Lim Teck Ghee
Dr. Lee Hwok Aun
Prof. Francis Loh
Assoc Prof Dr Mustafa K Anuar
Dr. Ooi Kee Beng
Janet Pillai
Dr. Johan Saravanamuttu
Prof. Tan Sooi Beng
Associate Prof. Dr. Yeoh Seng Guan
Prof. Diana Wong
Prof. Zaharom Nain
KUALA LUMPUR, 5 July 2011

ALIRAN: Why the sledge-hammer? (4/7/2011)

Aliran media statement

Why the sledge-hammer?

It looks like if they don’t get you under one law, they will get you under another law. That seems to be the case as far as Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj and his colleagues are concerned. But this time they used a sledge-hammer just to make sure that they get them.

During the seven days’ remand the police did not unearth any incriminating evidence to justify their action against 30 Parti Socialis activists for allegedly “waging war against the king”. That was the reason stated for remanding these people. Before that, there was talk they could be investigated for sedition.

On the seventh day of their remand, six of them were freed from the Kepala Batas Police Station. The implication of this action was very explicit: the police had actually cleared them of whatever they were originally suspected of being involved in.

In other words, there was no case against them and therefore there was no reason to seek a further remand to continue with the police investigation or to charge them. It was the end of the case and the matter was closed to the satisfaction of the police.

But lo and behold, at the very moment Jeyakumar and his colleagues were freed, police personnel from Bukit Aman immediately re-arrested them! This time they were being arrested under the Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance 1969. This time they used the sledge-hammer approach. This Ordinance doesn’t give you a chance to challenge the arrest and detention.

But this Ordinance is meant for suspected goons and gangsters and criminals who habitually indulge in crime and violence; suspected criminals who pose imminent danger to citizens and remain a constant threat to public order.

The activities of Jeyakumar and his colleagues come nowhere near to this conceived potential danger to the nation. Their activities were never violent or criminal. In fact, they are very concerned and compassionate people who only want to do good that will benefit the discarded and marginalised sectors of our community.

Jeyakumar is noted for devoting his entire life to the care of the less privileged and discriminated urban poor, the neglected estate communities and the largely ignored Orang Asli. His ways are gentle, his approach is gentlemanly. He has never advocated any violence in the pursuit of justice for the poor, the weak and the meek. It was always persuasion and reasoning that he deployed to seek justice.

Reasoning and rational Malaysians cannot accept any insinuation that he is a danger to public order. In their eyes Jeyakumar is a victim of gross injustice.

Aliran has known Jeyakumar for many years. He is one of our loyal members committed to the aspirations of Aliran. His concerns are exemplary and inspiring. He is a tireless worker for the good of the nation. We reject any allegation of criminal intent on his part. Detaining him under the EO is a terrible injustice to this man of peace.

Aliran calls upon the Barisan Nasional government to be fair and just and free Jeyakumar and his colleagues immediately. Their continued detention does not speak well of our notion of justice or our respect for the rule of law.

Aliran Executive Committee
4 July 2011

What you can do...

Please send the following appeal letter and email a copy to Aliran email: aliran (at) streamyx (dot) com

Appeal letter


YAB Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak
Prime Minister, Malaysia
Office of The Prime Minister,
Main Block, Perdana Putra Building,
Federal Government Administrative Centre,
62502 Putrajaya, MALAYSIA
Tel : +60 3 88888000
Fax : +60 3 88883444
E-Mail :

Tan Sri Ismail Omar
Inspector General Police
Ibu Pejabat Polis Diraja Malaysia,
50560 Bukit Aman,
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tel:+60 3 22626015
Fax:+60 3 22725613

Dear Sir

We write to you concerning the detention of Member of Parliament for Sungai Siput Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj and five other members of Parti Sosialis Malaysia who were re-arrested on 2 July 2001 in Penang.

Apart from Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj, 56, they are PSM deputy chairperson M Saraswathy 58; central committee members Choo Chon Kai, 33; M Sugumaran, 50; Sungai Siput branch secretary A Letchumanan 49; and Youth leader Sarath Babu, 25.

During the seven days’ remand, the police did not unearth any incriminating evidence to justify their action against the PSM members for allegedly ‘waging war against the King’. Hence they were taken out of the premises of the Kepala Batas District Police Station on the seventh day and freed. There being no case against them, one would have thought that that was the end of the matter.

Instead, they were immediately rearrested under the Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance 1969, this time by police personnel from Bukit Aman, and taken to Kuala Lumpur.

As you well know, this Ordinance is meant to be used against suspected gangsters and criminals who habitually indulge in crime and violence; suspected criminals who pose an imminent danger to citizens and pose a constant threat to public order. Like the Internal Security Act, this Ordinance doesn’t give you a chance to challenge the arrest and detention.

In no way do the activities of Jeyakumar and his colleagues pose any serious danger to the nation. Rather, they have always shown much concern and compassion for the poor and marginalised sectors of our society. As well, they have never resorted to violence and criminal ways in all their activities.

Under the circumstances, the detention of Jeyakumar and the other five is a gross violation of their rights as citizens of Malaysia and a travesty of justice. It makes a mockery of Malaysia’s seat in the UN Human Rights Council.

Therefore we urge you to intervene in this matter and seek your assistance to facilitate their immediate release.

Thank you for your attention.

Yours faithfully,